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There go the Trees

August 4th, 2013 at 09:33 am

When I was back in the US, I noticed some peculiar damage to the trees in our back yard. We live in Houston, TX, and the power company can come in and trim any trees away from power lines to help limit wide-spread, long-term outages when storms blow through.

Four of our trees, three oaks and a pecan, are on the easement, and they keep getting butchered every time the power company does their trimming.

The damage I noted, though, was near the bottoms of the trunks, but above where a weed eater or other lawn tool would hit; maybe three feet (one meter) up from the ground. The bark was splitting, leaving very large spots that had bare wood under them. Trees are very, very long term investments, so we scheduled an arborist to come out and look at them, in the hope that we could nurture the trees back to health.

The diagnosis is dire. First off, the "best tree," which is an elm off the easement and closer to the house has been hit by lightning, probably multiple times. It is dead on the inside, and the arborist said we have about two more years before it must come down. We're not waiting two years. The tree is too large to risk it falling, and I lost a porch on my last place because I went too long before removing a dying tree.

The four trees in the easement have been butchered badly by the power crews - I don't blame the crews, because the benefit to the majority of the people outweighs my personal losses. The damage is so bad that these trees, too, need to come out. Two of the oaks have lost their capillary layer, and just don't know they're dead yet. The pecan is structurally dangerous now, which we already suspected. I don't know what's wrong with the other oak.

Long story synopsis: I'm losing all of my backyard trees, and it's going to cost about $3K to take them out. I've already asked DW to go to the "good" nursery near our house to start shopping for new trees. We're probably going to put in fairly large trees, because we don't have 30 years to wait to have "real" trees.

The good news is that the trees in the front are healthy, including the oak I put in to replace a tree I had taken out 5 years ago after Hurricane Ike. So, the curb appeal is not affected, only the backyard ambiance.

DW has agreed to wait to pay cash for this, at least. It is not an emergency, so we're going to pay for it without hitting the debt cards. We'll probably have it done before Christmas.

I'm going to miss those trees.

6 Responses to “There go the Trees”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Do you have time to fool with calling around to see if the pecan, if big enough, has value as lumber or as sculpture wood?...Thirty years ago I told a man in lumber about a huge old walnut tree I had seen a city crew bury. (Burying their mistake. They thought it was ailanthus). He said his company would have come from the far side of the state, dig it up, haul it off, and pay around $5000--if the tree had been on private property. The city, he said, was impossible to deal with.

  2. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    It must feel so disappointing to lose good trees like that. That would be great if Joan's idea works out though - then maybe it'd be a financial wash.

  3. Wino Says:

    The pecan was hemmed in by four trees I had removed earlier. The trees were actually "trash trees" that aren't trees at all, but very big woody weeds that resemble trees (chinese tallow). Due to this, the pecan is very, very tall, and very, very thin. It had to sacrifice girth for height, else it would not have grown at all. Now, it is about 30 to 40 feet tall, and only maybe 8 inches at the base. I was hoping that it would fill out before falling over, but all it has managed to do is put on more branches slightly lower, and the slightest wind causes severe swaying. If we got ice in Houston, I'm sure it would have split and fallen this winter. Even rain causes it to bend noticeably due to the extra weight of the water on the leaves. And it's been getting worse every year since I cleared out its neighbors.

    Our next-door neighbor smokes briskets, and we'll get a brisket or two for the smoke wood he'll get from our pecan. The good news is that it is nearly ideal for cutting in to stackable sizes. No splitting will be needed, as the bulk of the tree is four inches or smaller in diameter. There's going to be a lot of wood, too, due to its height.

    Walnut is a great wood for nearly anything. Its grain is so unique. I think it's my favorite wood, perhaps second to real cherry.

  4. Buendia Says:

    Oh! That's sad! A few years ago a neighbor's son strung up an elm right near house (on neighborhood common property, not our property) with climbing ropes, sawed it up and destroyed it. Our neighbor was a real jerk about it saying "boys need to climb trees." OK, but why not destroy a tree near his house (he's about 3 doors down) rather than right in front of our house? I complained to the homeowner's board, but nothing came of it until a year later when the neighbor took the ropes out saying "I didn't realized it was THAT bad - wow." Needless to say, the tree didn't make it; it had to be removed this year, and now we can see the nearby road where we never could before. I've asked our homeowner's association for a new tree there, and they haven't responded. I'll have to plant it myself, I guess. Sorry about the loss of your trees, and the expense!!

  5. Wino Says:

    Why not make the neighbor pay to replace the tree? There's nothing like a $15000 bill to cure jerk-ness.

  6. baselle Says:

    I'd miss those trees too. Without their shade, it'll be Dubai the second home.

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